Friday, February 20, 2009

Forgettable and/or Lamentable?

When the Federal Reserve was restructured in its present form, the first true chairman of the Fed was Mariner Eccles. In his footsteps came Thomas McCabe, William McChesney Martin, Arthur F. Burns, G. William Miller, Paul Volcker, Alan Greenspan and now Ben Bernanke. What is striking is the stature of these men. McCabe only served three years and was the place holder between two giants - Eccles and Martin. G. William Miller was a disaster and has generally been regarded as the least competent Fed chairman. Until now. Ben Bernanke is an embarrassment and acts as if he is a toady to the administration. Instead of acting like he is auditioning for reappointment by Obama, how about acting like he still considers inflation as being job one? Instead of asserting Fed independence he has flooded the economy with funds by having the Fed buy over $2 trillion in assets and announcing the intention of purchasing another $1 trillion in asset-backed securities. He has helped tank the dollar in world markets and only the world recession  has saved it from sinking any farther. 

Its too much to ask but how about reinstituting the Fed's focus on fight inflation, preserving the value of the dollar and slowing down the growth in the money supply to equal that of the long term real rate of growth in the economy? So Ben, here is some advice: Let them fail! This is America not the old Soviet Union. This is capitalism. The markets are sending you a message that you are ignoring. In so doing, you are help turning the greatest economy in the world into a banana republic. The problem with living in DC is that it inflates your ego and makes you feel self important. I have always advocated moving the Fed to Kansas City in order to get away from DC and putting it in touch with real people. We saw that forbearance only upped the price of the S&L failures in the 1980s. This propping up of failures is the new forbearance. The Fed buys assets, holds them and hopes that the markets recover and increases their value. Maybe this will happen but in the interim we are rewarding bad behavior. Ben, have you ever heard of moral hazard?

1 comment:

Lisa said...

You said: "Instead of acting like he is auditioning for reappointment by Obama, how about acting like he still considers inflation as being job one?" I simultaneously hear about fears of deflation, inflation, and even hyper inflation. How do you see things playing out in the next year and the next five years?